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“All the world’s a joke and man is born clown.”
– from Falstaff, by Arrigo Boito.
It takes two to make a good joke: someone to tell it and someone else to laugh. But if you believe the medical facts, laughing ten times a day can also help you lower your blood pressure, reduce anxiety, increase your sex appeal, prevent baldness, understand birdsong, reinvigorate your wardrobe and aid your appreciation of these humourous short stories. (Note to stereotypically humourless lawyers: parts of the above may be untrue.)
But jokes are just the beginning. Linguists have often pointed to the link between humour and metaphor as a way of showing the world in a different light, making it recognisable yet new; understandable yet strange. In this issue, we’ve tried to bring together a mixture of styles and approaches (and yes, that includes puns: cf. M.V Montgomery). We’ve chosen stories that use humour as a kind of petrol to the engine: a clash of cultures – some of them biological – in an exclusive extract from Joanna Kavenna’s brilliant new novel Come to the Edge; knockabout humour in Tom Toro’s “Radio Cairo“; understated, yet pervasive, satire in Aaron’s Stypes’s “The Steve Show“, and in Stephen Pile’s two short pieces, proof that the real world is as barmy as anything we can make up…
We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!